Top Gun: Maverick

High as You Can Go

The original Top Gun is not a great movie, but it is an iconic one.  Despite its several risible elements, it’s outlasted conventionally better films in American pop culture by sheer virtue of being so damn memorable.  It’s a factory of classic movie moments, from the orange-soaked, “Danger Zone”-scored opening to the impromptu bar serenade to, yes, the beach volleyball scene.  That these highlights never add up to a fully-formed movie is beside the point; the fact that Top Gun has managed to spawn a sequel thirty-six years later is proof of its unique staying power.

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Hustle

Mentor Sandman

The 2010s weren’t the best decade for Adam Sandler.  He had settled into a comfortable niche starring in movies whose quality generally ranged from tolerable to dreadful, and his lack of interest only became more apparent in the movies he made under his lucrative Netflix contract.  But in 2019, his performance in Uncut Gems reminded us that he could be a compelling dramatic actor when he wanted to – although the release of Hubie Halloween less than one year later dampened hopes of a McConaughey-esque late career renaissance.  The Netflix sports drama Hustle sees Sandler back in more serious territory, to mixed results.

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We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021)

Viral Videos

For most of We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, the only person in sight is Casey (Anna Cobb), a lonely and anxiety-ridden teenager.  She seeks connection through the World’s Fair Challenge, a creepypasta offshoot billing itself as the world’s scariest online horror game.  All one has to do to join is prick their finger, watch a series of flashing images, then report the “symptoms” that allegedly manifest after the video.  There’s no goal per se, except for sharing one’s videos with others and trying to uncover the game’s many secrets.

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Flight (2012)

Flying High

Flight is a movie that peaks during its opening scenes, but what a peak it is.  Its first act plane-crash sequence is the movie’s clear peak, an edge-of-your-seat ten minutes that are both breathlessly thrilling and terrifyingly believable.  In the cockpit is Whip Whittaker (Denzel Washington), a seasoned airline pilot with a serious alcohol and drug addiction.  Coming off a night of heavy drinking and a morning of cocaine use, Whip’s seemingly routine morning flight from Orlando to Atlanta suffers a severe mechanical error.  Through a combination of Zen-like calm and sheer skill, Whip manages to land the plane in a field with only six lives lost.  Though hailed as a hero by the media, he’s too busy mourning the death of his flight attendant paramour to bask in the spotlight.

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Amadeus: The Director’s Cut (1984)

amadeus

An Artist of Note

Looking back at Amadeus, the first thing that comes to mind is the sad realization that it wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of being made today.  A big-budgeted period piece about a well-known but fairly niche subject would be deemed far too financially risky in today’s timid Hollywood.  How lucky we are, then, that this movie was made at all, since it’s the kind of auteur-driven, thrillingly original, and richly cinematic movie so rarely seen in modern theaters. Continue reading